Wayd Odle and his wife Audrey in Carmen. Photo by Don Ipock

Lyric Opera resident artist to lead Easter children’s choir in south KC

“I remember what it feels like to be eight years old. Church can be boring. There is a special joy that comes through the music.”

By Heather Wimmer

If you saw Kansas City Lyric Opera’s recent performance of The Shining, you would have seen Wayd Odle in the role of Delbert Grady, evil demon of the main character, Jack. The classical music website Bachtrack called Odle’s tenor voice, “full well the insidious voice of evil.” 

The Shining will be Odle’s last performance for a while. He and his wife Aubrey have both been Lyric Opera resident artists for the past two years, which ends this spring. Their family lives in south Kansas City. 

On Easter Sunday, Wayd will conduct the final performance of the children’s choir on April 9, at 10 am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 8144 Holmes Rd., open to the public. 

As he wraps up time here in Kansas City, Odle took time to answer some questions.

Opera tenor Wayd Odle leads the children singing at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in south Kansas City. Photo by Shana Siren Kempton

Which have been your favorite shows and roles during your time here? 

Delbert Grady in The Shining was so difficult, but it was so rewarding. I had never done a modern opera before. Playing the bad guy is also not something that tenors get to do that often. My other favorite was getting to be in Carmen with my wife. Aubrey was Mercedes and I was Remcado. Carmen is how we met, so this is a special opera for us. 

What do you like about Kansas City Lyric Opera?

Having that size of a company doing such high-quality work in the Midwest is truly amazing. The caliber of shows they put on and the caliber of artists they bring in, and the resources given to us as artists are amazing too. So much credit goes to Deb Sandler, our director and CEO. She secured funding for The Shining, but also arranged to have the world premier recorded for Grammy consideration.  

What do you like best about living in Kansas City?

I’m originally from Nebraska, so I auditioned here for grad school at UMKC Conservatory. Midwest, big city, lots going on, sports, huge arts culture. Outside of the Midwest you might not know this. And the people here are wonderful. Everyone is so kind. People say hello to strangers. And I’ve had more BBQ in the last two years than I’ve had in my whole life!

How about living in South KC? 

I hate to agree with my wife, but I love the Aldi that’s nearby! We live in Waldo and our son goes to Yellow Jacket [Early Learning Center]. The educators in our area are phenomenal. We have a nice neighborhood. We have also developed special relationships in our church. And of course, we have Betty Rae’s—I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Betty Rae’s.

Wayd Odle performed as Delbert Grady (right) in the Lyric Opera’s production of The Shining. Photo by Ken Howard

In addition to performing at the opera and raising two kids, you have found time to volunteer as the children’s chorister at church. What motivates you to do that?

First, my mother volunteered as a chorister for the children at church, and I was her pianist. Every week I would see her tell the kids how important they are. I’ve done this in Utah too when in school, and it’s really special. I remember what it feels like to be eight years old. Church can be boring. There is a special joy that comes through the music. Also, I know how important learning these songs has been in my life. Through challenging times, remembering simple principles from songs like “I Am a Child of God” and “Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam” gives me hope and courage to keep going. 

What piece will the kids be singing this Easter? 

“The Miracle.” I know this song because of my mom, who introduced it to me years ago and we both just cried. The song is that Jesus is the God of miracles, but the most incredible is the gift that he gave all of us. We are all miracles. It sounds cliche, but he can work miracles in all of us if we let him. It’s hard to not look at these kids and get emotional because I can see miraculous things happening in our primary choir. And I love reminding them that to sing for others is a gift. 

What comes next for you in your career?

I am off to Santa Fe Opera this summer to be a 2023 Apprentice Artist, one of 40 chosen from more than 1,000 applicants. Aubrey is off to Des Moines Metro Opera to be an understudy for a lead role.

What are you thinking as you are coming to the end of your time here?

We will miss Kansas City a lot. It’s hard to talk about without getting sad, but we are excited for these new adventures. Our kids have been amazing about it. We can’t wait for the day we can come back though. I don’t think this is the last time you will see an Odle performing in Kansas City. 

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